Mr. Green Car: 2010’s 10 top sellers, and how to double your gas mileage

By Allen Penticoff
Free-lance Writer

I recently heard that despite survey after survey indicating consumers would like to buy hybrid vehicles, sales of hybrids in 2010 were only 4 percent of the total for passenger vehicles and light trucks. So, this kind of report gets me to thinking. What are Americans buying? Here are the top 10 sales figures. First is the model, the unit sales in 2010, followed by the percent increase (+) or decrease (-) in sales over 2009.

1. Ford F Series trucks: 528,349 / +13.9 percent

2. Chevy Silverado trucks: 370,135 / +27.0 percent

3. Toyota Camry: 327,381 / -7.3 percent

4. Honda Accord: 311,381 / +18.9 percent

5. Toyota Corolla: 266,218 / -33.2 percent

6. Honda Civic: 260,218 / +31.3 percent

7. Nissan Altima: 229,263 / +23.5 percent

8. Ford Fusion: 219,219 / +20.0 percent

9. Honda CRV: 203,714 / +23.5 percent

10. Dodge Ram trucks: 199,652 / +93.0 percent

Where did the best-selling hybrid, the Toyota Prius, fit in? Pretty far down the list at 140,928 units, an increase in sales of only 1.6 percent. By contrast, Toyota’s luxury Lexus division sold more than 1 million vehicles.

It is tough to make analysis and assumptions about these numbers. Marketing and special offers make a big difference in what is selling. The perceived quality and value of a vehicle is a factor in some models, not in others (many Ford truck people wouldn’t be caught dead in a Chevy truck, and vice versa). Personally, I find just these top 10 unit sales numbers to be astounding. Where are all these people with the money to buy new cars? But it is happening despite a “sluggish” economy.

I’d analyze (my best guess) that Camrys are down in sales, but still a winning volume, as there is a lot of competition in the mid-size sedan market. While the numbers here make it look like we still really like to drive around in our trucks (and from street-side observations, there is no let up in this), you have to look at the total number of trucks versus the total number of smaller passenger vehicles to see that cars still dominate sales overall—and many of them are reasonably fuel efficient.

I wish the truck numbers were smaller and the Prius numbers bigger. But a variety of forces keep that from happening. Our low taxes on fuel for one; attitudes is another. The majority of consumers in the U.S. don’t really care enough about their environmental impact—or even the impact on their bank account—to concern themselves much with what fuel costs. This does not bode well for the newer expensive plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles coming out. Early adopters will buy them, but will they really catch on and be the new wave of transportation sitting in our driveways?

How to double your gas mileage with the vehicle you currently are driving

Switching gears a bit here. Lately, I’ve had several conversations around consolidating trips and planning routes to get the most of every mile driven. The simple solution to doubling your gas mileage is to drive half as much.

If you have to drive to work or school every day—you are limited some in what trips you leave out. Yet, could you walk, bike, car pool or work from home? When you do have to go out, try to eliminate special trips for some item or errand—particularly if you don’t REALLY need to do it right now. Make a list of errands you need to accomplish in pencil. Move things around so you can travel in a loop or line that does not involve doubling back until you are returning from the farthest destination. Think about what side of the street a destination is on—it is almost always easier to make right turns in and right turns out of a parking lot or side street. Left turns can be hazardous and waste time and fuel. The “right turn rule” often makes the nearest stop the last. United Parcel Service figures this all out for their delivery people—so should you. With a little practice, forethought and patience, you can cut down on your driving considerably—saving you time, money, aggravation and doing a little bit to help the planet.

From the Feb. 23-March 1, 2011, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!